FEATURE ARTICLE

MBCN - One More Year

You may have noticed that you did not receive a January issue of Midwest Biological Control News. The reason for this is that, as our deadline came and passed, our funding situation was still unresolved. Since then, we have good news and bad news. The good news is that a few universities in the region have decided that MBCN is valuable enough that we deserve one more year to continue to seek long-term funding, and those universities are funding us directly. The bad news is that we are about one university short of having sufficient dollars for the entire year. So, this is a combined January-February issue. We intend to continue now on a monthly basis as we have in the past. As we get towards the end of the calendar year, we may once again have to put out one or two combined issues to get us all the way through 1999. We apologize for this inconvenience, especially to those of you who have been paying a subscription fee. Notifications for private subscriptions will be mailed soon. Subscriptions will be $18 per year for 1999. This is the first subscription increase since we started MBCN, and, to some extent, reflects increasing costs. In the past, the subscription charge was based primarily on the expense of printing and mailing with very little going toward actual production costs. The new subscription rate will also provide us with a tiny bit more operating revenue.

Goals and History. I think it is appropriate here to review the goals of MBCN and its history. The federal Hatch Act provides funding to the Land Grant Universities to conduct research. Part of these funds are used to form regional committees that meet annually to determine research priorities and develop ways to address these priorities. There are many such committees in each region. NCR-125 is the North Central Regional Committee on Biological Control of Pest Arthropods. Several years ago, NCR-125 identified the need for greater Extension resources to help transfer biological control research and technology to all people who need to make pest management decisions. Recognizing that the Cooperative Extension Service was the single most important group for delivering pest management information, we decided that a newsletter would be a useful tool to bring practical biological control information to Extension personnel. We submitted a proposal to the USDA Extension Integrated Pest Management Special Grants Program administered in Washington, DC, and received funding for the first three years; MBCN was born. Because competitive grants programs rarely fund the continuation of established projects, we submitted a second grant application for year 4 funding, this to the North Central Regional IPM Program. This program limits Extension grants to $25,000, and therefore funding was sufficient for only one additional year. By now we had explored (and exploited) most the conventional options for receiving Extension dollars for this type of program.

The Future. At the October 1998 meeting of NCR-125, state representatives voiced unanimous support for the continuation of MBCN as long as funding could be secured. Thanks to the university support we have received, we have one last shot at securing long term funding. We will be taking our case once again to Extension administration with the USDA in Washington, as well as to the EPA and to private foundations. It has always been our primary objective to provide practical biological control information to Extension educators, and to do this free of charge. We have considered other options for the future of MBCN, including exclusively website publication or going entirely to a subscription basis; I feel that these are less than desirable options. But if MBCN is to continue, we may have to accept less than the perfect world in the future.

Thanks to Our University Sponsors for 1999

At our annual meeting in October, 1998, NCR-125 members discussed ways to find the means to continue MBCN. It was decided that we would attempt to get funding directly from our universities for one-time support, and several committee members volunteered to approach their university administrators in this regard. Of course, these are fiscally difficult times for many universities, and administrators have many more needs than they have dollars. Therefore, we are very pleased to have received funding from five universities and we acknowledge that support here:

University of Illinois ($5000)

Michigan State University, Project GREEEN ($5000)

University of Minnesota ($3000)

University of Nebraska ($5000)

University of Wisconsin ($5000).

We also wish to acknowledge the persistence and persuasiveness of the NCR-125 representatives from these states: Dr. Rob Wiedenmann (IL), Dr. Doug Landis (MI), Dr. David Ragsdale (MN), Dr. Bob Wright (NE), and Dr. Dan Mahr (WI).

Finally, I want to thank our readers for continuing to express your support for the newsletter; your kind words of encouragement have made us want to succeed all the more.

- Dan Mahr, Project Director, University of Wisconsin - Madison


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